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Drought Conditions Worsening For State

Mother Nature may have teased the state with a few heavy snow dumps earlier in the season but it would appear, that wasn’t enough to stave off what experts are calling the mega-drought barreling toward California.

What does that mean for the upcoming watering season for the local farmers?

According to Steve Knell, Oakdale Irrigation District General Manager, OID’s watering season will proceed as planned this year with no scheduled interruptions but next year remains unknown.

“Despite the fits of boom and bust rainfall events this year, OID and its sister district SSJID, are in good shape for this water season,” Knell shared.

Knell further explained, “The Department of Water Resource’s Bulletin 120, as of Feb. 8, indicates that runoff in the Stanislaus Basin will exceed 600,000 acre feet this year. That forecast will mean both OID, SSJID and their constituents will receive a full allocation of water this year.”

However, Knell was also quick to point out, “…While we enjoy the benefits of having senior water rights and a district whose Board has invested heavily in water conservation improvements to secure drought resiliency, we must remember that being water-smart with the use of water on-farm is the third leg of that success stool. All of us working as good stewards of a resource in short supply benefits everyone.”

Scientists are calling the mega-drought the most extreme drought the Western states have experienced in 1,200 years — and climate change is a contributing factor by 42 percent.

What’s even worse news? There’s no end in sight for the foreseeable future.

According to reports from the State Water Resources Control Board, the first two months of 2022 are the dustiest January and February in California history with March looking similarly dry.

The state’s current dry spell mimics the driest year in California since 1924 — not a shock to many if anyone has seen recent photographs of the state’s largest reservoirs looking like a pond at the end of summer.

Unfortunately, the most recent storms did little to soften the swift decline in water resources across the state.

According to the state hydrology update, a data supplement to the California Water Watch website, as of Feb. 1, the snowpack is at 92 percent of average, representing a sharp decline since December and currently the seasonal snowpack is resting at 57 percent of what is normally expected by April 1.

Currently, all 58 counties within California remain under an emergency drought proclamation and all citizens are urged to do their part to conserve water.

The California Department of Water Resources offered the following water conversation tips:


Indoor Conservation Tips

Fix leaks, including leaky toilets

Install high-efficiency toilets, aerators on bathroom faucets, and water-efficient shower heads

Take shorter (five minute) showers

Track your water bill and meter to curtail water use

Turn off water when brushing teeth or shaving

Use dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only


Outdoor Conservation Tips

Plant drought-tolerant/resistant plants and trees

Recycle indoor water to use on plants

Refrain from watering your home landscape when it rains

Replace your grass/turf with water-wise plants

Use a broom to clean driveways, patios, and sidewalks instead of water from a hose

Water your outdoor landscape earlier in the day when temperatures are cooler